Monday, January 9, 2012

9 January 2012 Letter (Szekesfehervar)

Dear Family,

I'm not sure what is so different today, but I am really tired.  There are also many things I wish to bring up in my email today, so please bear with me as a jump around a little.

Monday, 2 January
We had two programs today.  The first was with L on temples.  The lesson made me realize how different things can be concerning temples while in a place like Hungary.  It's been a great blessing and miracle of how convenient it has been for me to attend a temple prior to my mission.  Out here, the nearest temple is a day's journey away in Germany.  L, being young and the only member in her family, has not had the opportunity to ever visit a temple, nor is it likely that she will have that opportunity even in the next couple to several years.  In Utah, it was so convenient that one afternoon, after finishing an AP test, I was able to make an impromptu decision with a group of my friends and we all went to the temple within an hour's notice.  We were done within the next two hours, and still had half the day to hang-out.  It's an entirely different scenario here.  I pray that one day the people of Hungary can be prepared, receive, and then attend a temple in their own land.  I pray that L will have those opportunities that I enjoyed with my friends and neighbors as a teenager.

The second lesson was with R.  We discussed the importance of “Desire” and the role it plays in our conversion and testimonies.  We asked her of her desire to be baptized and to become a member of the Church.  She responded in the affirmative, with a "yes", but also said she doesn't feel ready yet and needs more time.  We marked March as a goal to work towards, and challenged her to really make prayer a priority, especially concerning the authenticity and divine origin of the Book of Mormon.  We have her promise that she'll begin tonight and work towards that knowledge and testimony.

Last of all, we had a District Meeting today.  We were unable to plan everything, so we have another scheduled for Thursday.  I cleaned our apartment for a couple hours and believe I'm the first one to have cleaned the bathroom in over nine months.  I also sent out over eight pages of emails this morning.  It's quite possible the most I've ever typed in that amount of time, the longest email I've ever sent, and the most exercise my hands have had on my mission.  Unfortunately, I forgot to send my weekly email to President Baughman.  Oops.

Tuesday, 3 January
I don't have as much to write about today.  My miracle today was our one program.  We met with a man named Z for the first time today.  He's 30~ish, has a job, doesn't have many religious beliefs, but is interested in learning more.  We already scheduled a second program.  Having T at the lesson with us was a huge help.  He and Z talked at a rate far beyond my level in this language.  Other than the program, I took more time to clean the apartment and am about done for a while (only the kitchen is left).  For the rest of today we tracted and streeted with only moderate success, collecting three phone numbers over the course of six hours.  Hopefully these three prove promising in the future.

Wednesday, 4 January
We did not have any programs today.  Today was my first real day of tabling because Elder Molnar is not at all a fan of tabling.  However, within an hour and a half, I had given out six copies of the Book of Mormon, and collected names and numbers for five.  This morning I finished "The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith".  It's a great book, and I have three parts recorded to look up again in a month or so.  In the evening, we played Nephites and Lamanites again during Csaladi Est, and had a crowd of twelve instead of just eight this time.  It went really well again. Last of all, and my miracle today, was a train of inspired thought that I had, recorded, and titled "I Know Ye Not!"

Thursday, 5 January
This week is continuing to look really good.  We had a dog, but successfully met with three people.  Our first was J.  She's always so vivid and fun to talk with.  B taught us our second lesson.  She really enjoys studying "Preach My Gospel" and did an incredible job sharing the many things she learned in chapter six, my favorite chapter.  R was our last and told us that she prayed about the Book of Mormon and didn't receive an answer.  I talked about how most the time we don't receive an answer right away, how life is a test, and we need to continue in faith.

Angolora started up again today, but we only had five people come.  At least all five were new.  While streeting we found a man named W who really got into a conversation with us.  We scheduled to meet on Monday.  I really hope he shows up.  A surprising miracle today was learning that after this week, we no longer need to record and report finding and working hours.  It will feel strange and take some getting used to.

Two last things I have forgotten to mention in previous entries: after Christmas, all the Advent Shacks switched to masks and fireworks, with a few costumes.  While Halloween doesn't exist here, they dress up for New Year's.  Also, there is a small shack called "Sutikucko", meaning "Cookie Cottage", which I am quickly developing a small love for.  The woman that owns it makes 15-20 different European pastries and desserts every day and sells them for the forint equivalence of 55-75 cents (where, in the States, they'd probably cost $2-3).  I really wish there were more places like it, especially back home.  I'm starting to turn into a regular customer.

Friday, 6 January
Today half our programs dogged, and due to last minute splits I wasn't in our two programs with Z and G.  From what I was told, the program with Z went really well and he committed to come to church and has already read part of the Book of Mormon that we gave him during our last encounter.  G had a hard time wrapping his mind around the fact that Peter wasn't the first Pope.  During Gyuli Buli, we had a game night and a lot of members, but unfortunately, no investigators showed up.  My miracle today was a series of thoughts on apostasy.  Some reasons, if not the vast majority, of why people leave the gospel just seem plain dumb to me.

Saturday, 7 January
Today we once again had two successful programs and two dodge.  However, my miracle was that in the first program we met with three 18-19 year old girls, which went fairly well.  One of them has read some parts of the Book of Mormon already.  (By the way, the three girls are all less-active Catholic.)  The second lesson was also with a new person, L.  He doesn't believe in anything, but that's something we are hoping to change.  We scheduled to meet with both parties again next week.

Other than that, we had our first Profi Angolora class of this year, which consisted of four old members and one newbie.  We gave the newcomer a Book of Mormon.  He actually seemed the most legit (open) of anyone we talked to today.  We'll have to see how far he goes.  I'm already over a fourth of the way through the Teachings of Brigham Young.  It's my experience that a lot of members are slightly afraid or evasive of Brigham Young and many of his teachings, but I quite enjoy them and find them very blunt and straight-forward.  He was in many ways "The Lion of the Lord".

Sunday, 8 January
Not much happened today.  I attended church and enjoyed the usual two hours, as well as the new third hour they added for the New Year, beginning today.  While no investigators came to church, three of the less-active members we've been visiting attended.  Our only program today dogged.  Today was also the last day we needed to record working and finding hours.  My miracle today was the third hour of church, as well as being over half done with reading the Teachings of Brigham Young.

I have a couple of last thoughts I want to include:

Here's a thought I jotted down in my planner that may be worth sharing:  “Many, a lot smarter than me, have tried to disprove this church and all have failed.  No one has ever disproved our doctrine and those who have tried to disprove the church and left, either left without having found any fault at all, or they have found their faults in the members.”  This seems simply ridiculous to me.  You cannot disprove a church through the faults of the members.  To seek to do so means that the entire congregation would have to be perfect, which is impossible.  We are human.  We are not perfect.  We each have our faults.  The only way to improve a church is through its doctrine, and no one has ever or will ever disprove the doctrine of this church."

Here's a quote I read in the "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young" that I thought was pretty funny:  "It is true that man is first.  Father Adam was placed here as king of the earth, to bring it into subjection.  But when Mother Eve came, she had a splendid influence over him.  A great many have thought it was not very good; I think it was excellent."

Well, that's all I have for this week.  Elder Molnar and I are going to try to visit some cathedrals today (I'll try to take some good pictures).  Also, tonight we are going bowling as a Branch Activity.  Hope you are all doing well.

Email you again next week.


Shipp Elder
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